Malcolm Pownall named 2017 Face of Hope

Hope Academy, the recovery high school supported by Fairbanks, has named Malcolm Pownall its 2017 Face of Hope.

Faces of Hope celebrates those who have made a positive impact on the school’s mission and programs. To mark Hope Academy’s 10th anniversary in 2016, the school honored 10 Faces of Hope. A new Face of Hope is honored annually during Hope Academy’s Taste of Hope fundraiser.

When Pownall joined the Fairbanks Board of Directors in 2002, the nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment center wasn’t in the best financial shape.

“They didn’t have the reserves that they do now,” Pownall said.

As chairman and CEO of First of America Bank Indiana, he was invited by a friend to join Fairbanks’ Finance Committee and help improve the numbers. Around the same time, the organization was considering the idea of opening a recovery high school for teens struggling with substance abuse. That idea eventually became Hope Academy. It’s the only recovery high school in Indiana and one of only 35 nationwide.

Pownall happened to have some personal experience with the issue that Hope Academy addresses.

“I knew a young man who had been kicked out of high school for smoking marijuana,” Pownall said. “I thought the idea of Hope Academy was great. It’s sort of like the last house on the block for students like that who need help getting their lives back on track.”

Pownall served on the Fairbanks board until 2011 and on Hope Academy’s board from 2005-14. Now retired, he’s still part of the organization’s finance and marketing committees. Pownall is proud of the progress that has been made over the last decade-plus.

“Fairbanks is in a strong financial position now,” he said. “Addiction treatment has become a very competitive environment. But with a tremendous staff and facilities, Fairbanks continues to be an industry leader.”

The same can be said for Hope Academy, which provides a safe, sober and academically-challenging environment for students in recovery.

“I’m proud that they’ve continued that mission,” Pownall said. “I feel blessed to have been a part of both of these institutions. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of.”

He has many stories from his years of service, but one that stands out was from a Circle of Hope dinner – the annual fundraiser for Fairbanks – when Pownall invited three current Hope Academy students to sit at his table. One told him that upon enrolling, he didn’t think he’d live to see his 18th birthday, much less graduate. And yet there he was, on track to finish his high school education.

“That tells the story of Hope Academy,” Pownall said. “Many of these students in fact don’t have much hope when they arrive, but with help find that and a path toward a positive future.”